Signaling for Help in the outdoors

Signaling is an essential skill for anyone who likes to go out into the back country. Knowing how to signal for help, and having the right gear for signaling, can mean the difference between life and death.

Guy Holding a Signal Flare

Methods of Signaling for Help in the Wilderness

  • Smoke and fire – If you are stuck without a way to signal your rescuers, smoke and fire is one of the best options available. Fresh greenery, oil, and rubber all make thick visible clouds of smoke that can be seen for miles.
  • Signal Mirrors – A good signal mirror can be seen for miles, and can help draw attention to your location. In military testing, under idle conditions, they have been seen from as far away as 100 mile.
  • Whistles – Whistles are great for short-range signaling; they are also useful for scaring off large animals and bears.
  • Flashlights – A flashlight can be very effective at night. Just make sure to conserve your batteries by using the flashlight when you’re certain rescue is near.
  • Flares – There are a couple different types of flares. Day flares produce a bright color smoke that can be seen from the air; night flares produce an extremely bright light that can be seen from far away.
  • Bright Reflective materials. Tinfoil, mirrors, metal or anything that can reflect the sunlight can be used to attract attention.
  • Cell Phone – Even in the most unlikely places you may be able to get a cell signal. It’s always a good idea to carry a cell phone, even while hiking in the back country. Believe it or not, people have even been rescued after first responders spotted the soft glow of someone’s cell phone.
  • Ham Radio – A hand-held ham radio will work anywhere in the world. They are lightweight and can be powered with a couple AA Batteries. It’s worth taking the time to find out how to use them.

Signaling Devices:

Shirts of Liberty
The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide

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